How to Motivate a Sales Team Part 2: Incentives

Brandon Gracey
August 27, 2014

“First prize is a Cadillac, second prize is a set of steak knives, third prize is you're fired.” It's a line that I'll always love from the classic early 90s film Glengarry Glen Ross, but let's face it: some things have changed since Alec Baldwin’s epic “ABC” speech.  While steak knives and a slightly maniacal cut-throat approach might be a bit outdated, putting a little something extra in front of your sales reps isn’t. In part 2 of my series on motivating your sales team, I'm focusing on incentives to offer to reps that win your sales contests. For some sales contests you can run to motivate your team, check out part 1. The most important thing about your contest prizes is you want to give your reps things they value. If your reps are carrying around heavy sample bags, a massage certificate addresses their pain, literally!  Free next season samples for your independents is a big win everyone can run at.  The more your team can identify with the bounty, the more likely they are to want it. Below are a few ideas to get the ball rolling.

Sales Team Incentives to Motivate Your Reps

Tangible Incentives

Gas cards, oil change certificates, etc… Your road reps are racking up miles every day, and expenses related to driving are your lowest hanging fruit in terms of prizes. Gas cards and oil change certificates are great in a pinch for smaller and shorter contests - where you need to move the needle quickly.  A new phone, GPS or iPad These are great gifts because your team needs them, so the incentive here is the chance to not buy it themselves.  As a bonus for you most of these double as tools that make your team more efficient, as your reps can write orders on their smart phone or tablets in the field. Things your reps actually want While I've listed some no-brainer items above that every traveling sales person would need, if you ask you team what would motivate them, they’ll tell you.  If you can’t think of something that’s the perfect fit, ask your reps what would make their job easier – or what they wish they had that they just haven’t gotten around to buying themselves. It's obvious, but offering a prize that you've confirmed is sought after is a great way to increase participation and engagement in your sales contests.

Experience Incentives

Dinner with an executive Around the time of sales kick off meetings or your biggest trade shows, it's likely that key company executives are in town and your team is attending various group dinners and events. Sales people, by nature, are typically angling to have high-value conversations with someone at the top. If you set up an dinner or one-on-one session with an executive for your top performing sales person, they will appreciate having the undivided attention, advice, and feedback from a leader at your company. A day off You might not want your best rep to take an extra day off – but he or she sure will. Of course, remember that there is also an extra benefit of the energy that comes after a day of recharging, so you're likely to get a lot of productivity out of your contest winner following this short break. A group outing When you run group contents incentivize the team to work together toward a larger goal by making sure the reward relies on, and benefits, everyone.   Set up a bar tab for team members that are geographically close to one another.  The added benefit is when they get together to celebrate; they’ll talk about what went right and how to keep it going for next time. Name it after them If a sales rep closes a huge deal, give them some extra special recognition by naming something after them. For those who report to a regional or headquarter office, you might name a conference or break out room after them. Don't have a common meeting space? Name the sales contest itself after your sales rep that crushed it the first time it was run.

Know and acknowledge your team

These are just a few ideas on how to incentivize your actual contests – but remember, at the end of the day, the best incentives are the ones your reps want the most.  Make sure to make your contests relevant to your team, the prizes, something they'll want, and you’ll be more likely to get the results you’re looking for! Also, while there's no doubt that tangible and experiential incentives are a great way to motivate your sales reps, don't forget to verbally acknowledge and appreciate high-performing reps, both directly and in front of their peers. A little recognition goes a long way. If you have some great prizes that have worked to incentive your sales team, we would love to hear about them. Please share with us in the comments below!